Agriculture is often associated with rural environments. While a lot of the food we eat in fact comes from rural areas, (in Nigeria, 70% of rural people are subsistence smallholder farmers and they produce 90% of Nigeria’s food), agriculture can also be practiced in urban areas.
Urban agriculture, also known as urban farming or urban gardening, is the practice of cultivating and distributing food in urban areas. Some of the food products that can be grown in urban agriculture are grains, root crops, rhizomes, mushrooms, and vegetables as well as ornamental plants and medicinal herbs.
Urban gardening can also involve the rearing of livestock such as poultry, rabbits, goats, fish and others.
Types of Urban Agricultural Practices
- Backyard Gardens:
Many people have small gardens or farms in their backyards where they grow food mostly for personal consumption. They plant crops such as tomatoes, maize, pepper, and vegetables. Some of the reasons why people venture into backyard farming is because it saves cost, guarantees organically grown produce, and is also a form of exercise.
- Rooftop Gardens:
As the name implies, a rooftop garden is a garden on the roof of a building. Though it is mostly used for aesthetic purposes, it can also provide food. However, not just any plant can be grown on the roof due to structural reasons. Plants such as aromatic herbs for example is suitable for rooftop gardens and are usually grown in pots.
- Urban Beekeeping:
Bees have a symbiotic relationship with flowering plants which makes them an important part of the food chain and earth’s ecosystem as a whole. They serve as natural pollinators for plants and trees.
Worker bees collect nectar from flowers and while doing so, the pollen on their body rubs off on the flowers. This pollen transfer makes it possible to fertilize ovaries and enable reproduction. The plants are then able to produce fruits and seeds.
Urban farmers can keep bee colonies in urban areas to encourage biodiversity. They also provide environmental and economic benefits.
Engaging in these urban agricultural practices can lead to positive outcomes such as:
- Increasing Food Security: Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, which meets their dietary needs and preferences for an active and healthy life. Urban agriculture increases food security by providing healthy substitutes for purchased foods. Households who purchase urban agriculture have more access to a variety of nutritious foods and vegetables.Urban agriculture helps to correct this by reducing the price of healthy food through middle man elimination and increasing the opportunity for community members to participate in the growing of food.
- Making Food Traceable:One of the major problems of the food supply chain is the lack of food traceability. Urban agriculture however seeks to provide a solution to this. When farmers produce and distribute food within the same area, they make it easier for consumers to trace where the food came from as opposed to when it has to be transported from different areas. This makes it easier to determine the authenticity of the food.
- Increasing Economic Growth: Urban agriculture encourages the use of land to feed people. Spaces such as rooftop gardens and vertical gardens take up minimal space but produces a lot of fresh and healthy food. Urban agriculture cuts down on fossil fuel production which farmers would have needed to transport, package, and sell food.Urban farms also aid the flow of income within the region. This makes it easier for farmers to connect with markets where they can supply directly and maximize profit.
- Creating Job Opportunities: Urban agriculture helps to create job opportunities in urban environments by employing the services of dispatchers, sales representatives, cleaners, gardeners, and many others. This strengthens our economy.
- Learning: While creating their own foods, urban dwellers can learn different processes in farming such as gardening techniques and others. It also helps people learn more about sustainable agriculture.
Do you have any other reasons why everyone should be urban gardeners? Let us know below